Posted on October 18, 2022

Supreme Court Declines Invitation to Broaden Birthright Citizenship

Stephen Dinan, Washington Times, October 17, 2022

The Supreme Court declined Monday to hear a case that would have expanded the country’s birthright citizenship policy to American Samoa.

The justices did not give reasons for refusing to hear the case, which touched on thorny issues of American territorial expansion around the turn of the 20th century.

A series of high court rulings known as the Insular Cases had concluded that some of the country’s new additions were likely to become states and should be treated one way, while others were likely to remain as possessions. Those were “inhabited by alien races, different from us in religion, customs, laws, methods of taxation, and modes of thought,” the court wrote.

The American Samoans who’d asked the justices to take up their case live in the continental U.S. They said it was time to overturn the Insular Cases and strike down a law Congress passed that blocks the American Samoans from automatic citizenship.


They had lost at the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where the majority ruled that the insular cases did block them.

Some legal scholars have labeled the Insular Cases an ongoing manifestation of racism.

But the American Samoan government, which urged the high court to reject the new challenge, said the Insular Cases preserve the territory’s “fa’a Samoa,” or traditional way of life.

“From the moment the traditional leaders of the American Samoan people voluntarily ceded sovereignty over their islands to the United States, persons born in American Samoa have been born as United States nationals, but not United States citizens,” the territorial government told the justices. {snip}